Ricky Ponting has left cricket fans stunned after making a 'genius' prediction in a pivotal moment of the World Cup semi-final against South Africa, as Travis Head ripped through the Proteas batting line-up. Pat Cummins and his men produced their best bowling display of the Cricket World Cup so far having limited South Africa to 212 in the semi-final in Kolkata.
Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood were phenomenal, with South Africa reeling at four down and hovering around a strike rate of just 2.00 after eight overs. Heinrich Klassen and centurion David Miller led the fightback for South Africa as they pushed the total past 118.
With the quicks losing their momentum, Cummins turned to Glenn Maxwell to snare a wicket. And immediately the Eden Gardens pitch showed a bit of life.
And Ponting, who won two World Cups as captain of Australia, immediately called for the introduction of Head into the bowling attack. The part-time spinner hasn't bowled too much at the World Cup with the spin attack led by Adam Zampa and Maxwell.
However, Ponting felt his off-spin could factor into game on a turning the pitch. And despite early criticism of Cummins' captaincy decisions this tournament, the fast bowler turned to Head just one over after Ponting's call.
And the impact was immediate. Head bowled Klassen in the 30th over and the very next ball he caught Marco Jansen lbw right in front. He finished with figures of 2-21 and also top scored for Australia with a quick-fire 62 runs.
Cummins made the call to bring Head on, which was another turning point in a rollercoaster semi-final victory over South Africa. But the vision and analysis from Australia's former captain Ponting certainly had the fans swooning over his cricket mind.
What a call from Ricky Ponting to bring on Travis Head and Cummins does the same. 2 in 2 and changes the game! All downhill for SA from here. #AUSvSA
— Abhinav Mukund (@mukundabhinav) November 16, 2023
how is ricky ponting still the best captain in the world from the commentary box? he calls for travis head to come on (averages 60.87 with the ball in ODIs) and the bloke takes two wickets in two balls in his first over
— Nick Elliott (@NickElliott91) November 16, 2023
just before pat called up Travis Head, Ponting was suggesting the same.
— Himanshu Mani Tripathi (@IHimanshooo) November 16, 2023
Ricky Ponting explaining at length why he'd give Travis Head a bowl and then Head comes on the very next over. Comes across as a genius, but the move came too quickly for me to not think that Head had been whirling his arms viciously off screen the whole time.
— Cameron Ponsonby (@cameronponsonby) November 16, 2023
I hate Ricky Ponting.
Man on the comms told that Australia should bring Travis Head to bowl and Travis Head scalped Klaasen and Jansen back to back in his first over.
Ponting's cricketing IQ is next level ffs.
— Santhosh Kumar Raju (@bruhthosh) November 16, 2023
Ricky Ponting in the com box: It's time for Travis Head. Once a captain always a captain. 👏 #AUSvSA
— Kirkut Fan 🌚 🏏🇵🇸 (@mr_kirkut_699) November 16, 2023
And shortly after Ponting said that, Head came in and started turning it square 😂
It's the finger spin that's generating more turn than the wrist spin
— Shaan Waseem (@shaanwaseem2) November 16, 2023
Ricky Ponting in the comm box “I’d give it to Travis Head”……genius
— Daniel Pitt (@danoredv) November 16, 2023
It’s amazing how sometime commentators comes in with thoughts and it works out exactly the same . just now Ponting said its wise to bring and give Head a chance as SA will go on charge and make mistake !! It’s exactly 100% bang on what happened !!
— AKDhillon🇮🇳 (@kauraverjit) November 16, 2023
— paRaY_YasiR ✍️ (@ParayYasir2) November 16, 2023
Mitchell Starc hits back at critics amid World Cup drama
While Head may have got player-of-the-match, it was Starc who made the early breakthroughs to leave South Africa reeling. The quick had only taken four wickets in the powerplay so far this tournament at an average of 34.75 - and 10 wickets overall at 43.90. Ponting and Ian Healy had both been vocal in their criticism of the Aussie attack with the new ball, but Starc and Hazlewood produced the goods on Thursday night.
Starc dismissed Temba Bavuma for a duck in the very first over, before picking up Aiden Markram not long after. The left-armer snared 3-34 off 10 overs - his best figures of the World Cup so far and a welcome return to form for Australia's strike weapon.
His double strike with the new ball helped reduce South Africa to 4-24 and set up Australia's win by three wickets at the death. He also made a vital 16 not out with the bat as he and Pat Cummins (14 not out) got the Aussies home with 16 balls remaining.
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